In one email group I belong they are discussing a question that basically boils down to the question above. I have been thinking about that for a time.
I could list all the roles I have had thrust upon me. Some are not as comfortable as others. I could define myself by the groups and friends I have. That would be a tempting definition to me -- I don't let them get close, but I do know an amazing number of extraordinary people who I call friends in the "swing dance group," and several I would like to be friends with in A's group. I have been identifying myself with my (lack of) accomplishments lately. I suppose I could even define myself in terms of the emotions I have predominately been feeling lately. Perhaps my personality? I know very well how malleable a personality can be due to disease, drugs, and a thousand other factors. I won't fall into the trap of defining myself that way. How about the cliche that a person's ineffable soul is who they are? That's a nice copout; Who we are is indefinable and so can't be put into words. Hmm, I just reread an old private entry that I am changing to friends only instead. In that entry I define myself as my journal toward the end of my rambling. I do get comfort from thinking that someone may read this collection of words after I am no longer around and get a sense of who I was, perhaps even somehow unlock the private entries I've made here. But, am I somehow capturing my very essence in this journal? Yeah, that sounds corny to me too.
I have no answers, and I suspect that the cliche/copout soul answer may be true (or the most palatable one anyway). There are only two things I know for sure. First by a number of the possible definitions above, I downright hate myself. Second and strangely, I have also noticed that I am starting to be more comfortable in my own skin too.